A lifetime of relays

Relay for Life is very close to junior Matthew Woodson’s heart. Woodson has participated in Relay since he was old enough to walk. He grew up in Vero Beach, Fla., where his family had its own Relay team, and his mom is the community director for an American Cancer Society.

Woodson transferred to Harding in January. His love for Relay inspired him to attend a committee meeting at Harding about the upcoming event. He originally joined the committee as an entertainment director, but about a month into the process, he received a promotion to the co-executive position.

The planning process has included many details which will culminate in a 12-hour event that will begin Friday at 5 p.m. on the front lawn. The opening ceremony will include a lap of survivors and students who will walk to represent survivors they know.

Relay for Life will be full of entertainment, games and food, but Woodson said that his favorite part is always the luminaries lighting ceremony. That ceremony will begin at 11 p.m. and will feature a time of song accompanied by a slideshow of victims and survivors.

“All of the candles will be lit around the walking track,” Woodson said. “That’s one of those goose bump moments.”

The money raised from this event funds cancer research, provides women and children with wigs, and supplies gas money to patients to go the hospital. These funds represent more than a donation; it is a sign of hope.

“I relay for my grandfather, a five-time cancer survivor,” Woodson said. “I relay for the man who can’t afford to drive to the hospital for his treatments. I relay for the woman who has lost everything that makes her feel beautiful, and for the little girl who sits with no hair but still puts on a smile.”

These are some of the many reasons why Woodson continues to be involved in the event each year. His passion to serve has inspired others, and he hopes that Relay for Life will continue to encourage people to join the fight against cancer.

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Mackenzie Lee, student writer

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  1. Marie Ferretti’s avatar

    Matthew, I almost couldn’t read the entire article – so many tears got in the way. I cannot explain the depth of feelings I have right now. Memories, (good and not so good) – hope (always hope) – and the blessings of each and every day. The bonus of getting older(er?) is experiencing the wonder that each of our grandchildren provide us with as you all find your place in this big world. YOU are doing an amazing job! I can just imagine “The Places You Will Go.” May God bless you, each and every day. We love you so much! mama and papa

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